Stupendous Summarizers!

Reading to Learn

By: Savannah Roberts


Rationale: Comprehension is one of the ultimate goals in reading. Comprehension helps the reader understand the material that they are reading. One great strategy that will assist in reading comprehension is summarizing. When teaching students to summarize, you are telling them to select the most important points in the text. This helps them to understand their reading in a more condensed version, while still comprehending the main idea of the material. This lesson will help students gain the skills to summarize an article. They will summarize an article in order to understand the deeper meaning contained in it. Students will use the following summarization rules: choose a topic sentence, cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas, and highlight important ideas and put into one sentence.



Paper for students

Pencils for students

Highlighters for students


White board

Copies of the article, "Magicians of the Sea" and "Mercury" (one per student)

Summarization Rules: choose a topic sentence, cross out unimportant details or repeated ideas, and highlight important ideas and put into one sentence.

Assessment checklist



"Today, we are going to practice a new strategy that will help us become stupendous readers. Our main focus is going to be on summarizing because this will help us to understand the passage better as well as become wonderful readers! Does anyone know what a summary is?" (wait for a response) "Very good! A summary is a shortened version of a long story or article, that has only the most important facts and ideas of the story or article. To summarize, we will first need to learn our summarization rules. The rules that we need to remember while summarizing are: First, choose the main idea of the article. This is usually the topic sentence. Then, cross out useless sentences or repeated ideas. Last, highlight the important facts and ideas and condense these into just a few sentences. Let's get started!"


 "Today, we are going to practice reading an article and summarizing it. (I will post the summarization rules on a transparency and place them on the projector for the students to see). Make sure you refer back to the summarization rules as you are doing this, and one thing that is very important is to make sure that your summary is in your own words. The best way to do this is to read slowly, reread important parts, and to make notes. Lastly, cross out unimportant and redundant information. Before we get started, we will review our vocabulary words." Vocabulary list: threatened, camouflage, and invertebrates.



-Let's look at what the word threatened means. To be threatened means that you feel scared, anxious, or insecure about something that might be dangerous to you. A fish might feel threatened by a shark.


-Feeling threatened might often mean feeling scared or unsure.


-Finish the sentence: The little boy felt _______ because….


Model: After going over the vocabulary words and the rules with the students, model how to summarize by reading, "Magicians of the Sea." Pass out a copy of the article to each student and give a book talk: "We are going to read an article about Octopuses. Did you know that Octopuses are very intelligent creatures that can do amazing things? Let’s read and find out what the mysterious ways in which Octopuses escape predators! First, we are going to read the whole passage together." Then, I will model reading a part of the passage to show the students what summarizing looks like. Pose a question: "How would I summarize the first three paragraphs? Let me show you. First, I would cross out unimportant details, then highlight important details and put them into one sentence. A few questions to help you understand what is important and what is not important are the following: What is the article about? What is the point? Ask yourself these questions as you are reading. Watch as I model the first three paragraphs."


What is it about? Octopuses (highlight clouds)

What is the point? They have incredible skills that allow them to escape predators: Camouflaging their skin to match the color of something else to blend in, squeezing their limber bodies into small spaces, and shooting ink.

Why? Because an Octopus doesn’t have teeth or sharp claws to defend themselves under the ocean floor, they have to get creative in their survival mechanisms.


Summary: Octopuses have magic like tactics that allow them to survive in the deep blue sea.


 Guided practice: Now, let's all try this together! Everyone read the fourth and fifth paragraph with me.


If you think that’s a neat trick, then you’ll love what else these creatures have up their sleeves. If an octopus is being attacked, it can actually make itself look like a venomous sea snake. It will bury itself in the sand, keeping two arms visible. It will change the color of those arms to match a sea snake. But what if there’s no time to hide? If an octopus is in trouble, it can break off one of its arms. The arm will then change colors and squirm around in the water to distract the predator while the octopus swims away to safety. Don’t worry though. The octopus’s arm will grow back.

There is one kind of octopus that has venom to use in defense. The blue-ringed octopus is tiny; it could fit in the palm of your hand. Predators might think this size makes the octopus a great snack, but they know to stay away. The blue-ringed octopus is very poisonous and can kill predators much larger than itself, including humans.


Big idea? There are many different ways octopuses stay safe from predators in the ocean.


Why? All animals have different ways to survive, and the very intelligent octopus is a very good example.


Summary? The octopus is called a magician of the sea because they have many tricks they perform when in danger. They have various ways of protecting themselves against predators. One way is to blend in with the ocean floor or various other objects. Another is to shoot black ink, so the predator is unable to see. Lastly, the blue octopus uses venom to keep predators away.    


5. Whole Text: Give the students a new article to read. Give them time to read the article and have them practice summarizing this article on their own. Today we will practice our summarizing skills with the article, ‘Mercury,’ by Cynthia Sherwood. This article describes the planet closest to the Sun, which is Mercury. The vocabulary words for this section are: Solar System, craters, and Fahrenheit. This article explains the conditions on the planet Mercury. Mercury being the closest planet to the sun gets extremely hot. Read the entire article and remember to highlight important facts and details, cross out useless facts, and write a summarizing sentence after each paragraph on your own sheet of paper. Ask yourself: What's it about? What's the point?


Assessment: Take up students' summarizations from the article above and evaluate using this table:


When summarizing did the student..... Yes No
Delete unimportant information?    
Delete repeated information?    
Organize items with big idea?    
Select a topic?    
Write an inclusive, simple topic sentence to summarize the passage?    


Also, ask comprehension questions such as:

How do we know that it is impossible for humans to live on Mercury?

What is the planet Mercury made out of?

Why is it possible for ice to be found at the North and South poles of Mercury?




Magicians of the Sea by Kelly Hashway


Mercury by Cynthia Sherwood


Kasey Albright- "Just Get to the Point.. Sum it Up!!"

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